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New report on UK space exploration published

Status Report From: British National Space Centre
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2007

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A report assessing the UK's involvement in future space exploration has been published by the UK Space Exploration Working Group.

The British National Space Centre (BNSC) Director General and the UK Space Board established the working group in January 2007, in response to the development of the Global Space Exploration Strategy by 14 countries' space agencies including the UK's BNSC.

The working group reviewed global plans for space exploration, assessed opportunities and benefits for UK participation and recommended suitable focus for UK activities. In summary the report has concluded that:

  • the UK's current involvement in robotic planetary science has yielded good scientific return and has helped build a capable skills and technology base in universities, national laboratories and industry;
  • there is immediate scope to yield increased benefit to the UK through targeted, near term involvement in lunar exploration, emphasising UK science interests and expertise in small satellites and robotics;
  • while a compelling rationale for the UK to immediately join the current European Space Agency (ESA) human spaceflight programme does not exist at present, there appear to be excellent scientific opportunities in the period beyond 2020 when there are plans to establish a permanent lunar base. In preparation the UK should establish a detailed plan so a decision can be made on UK involvement in human space flight in the decade beginning 2010.

The full report of the Space Exploration Working Group is available to download (pdf file, opens in new window, file size 1.87 mb)

A summary of the report is also available to download (pdf file, opens in new window 304 kb)

Further information is available on the Space Exploration Working Group from STFC

BNSC thanks the group Chairman Professor Frank Close and all those who contributed to the report for their efforts. BNSC intends to carefully review the report's findings and will take account of them in preparing the new UK Civil Space Strategy, due for publication in late 2007. The report was published at the British Association in York on 13 September 2007.

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